Wednesday Night #1649

Written by  //  October 9, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Earlier in the day, John Curtin, who is working on a documentary that will examine why a disproportionate number of Jews have achieved highest standing in their fields – no matter what field – had sent a gleeful message:
“First three Nobel Prizes announced this week: 6 of 8 winners are Jewish.
On Monday, Jewish Americans James Rothman of Yale University and Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, joined German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof of Stanford University in winning the Nobel Prize in medicine for their research on “vesicle traffic” — how proteins and other materials are transported within cells.
On Tuesday, François Englert, a Belgian Jewish professor at Tel Aviv University and a Holocaust survivor, shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Peter Higgs of Britain for their discovery of the Higgs particle.
On Wednesday, The Nobel Prize Committee announced 2013 chemistry award will be given to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel – all Jewish – who made advances in predicting chemical processes. …

“Daddy,” a little girl asked her father, “do all fairy tales begin with ‘Once upon a time’? ”
“No, sweetheart,” he answered. “Some begin with ‘If I am elected.”

– Thank you, Ron Meisels

1649 — Not as iconic as 1648 forever identified with the Peace/Treaties of Westphalia, but in our current context, the number offers a cautionary tale. It was the year that King Charles was beheaded, to be replaced by Oliver Cromwell who moved swiftly to abolish the House of Lords – Canadian senators beware!

October 7 is the 250th anniversary of The Royal Proclamation which essentially defined the relationship between the Crown and the native peoples in the new territories in North America acquired by the British — land that would become Canada.
The document became a guide to all treaty-making since, and its presence is felt in the legal underpinnings of Confederation in 1867 and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Some refer to it as the Indian Magna Carta. See more

Tom Clancy did the world a disservice by leaving us in the midst of an unfinished plot of what could have been his greatest novel. It would have been intriguing to see how Mr. Clancy, whose sympathies lay with the conservative, if not Tea Party, Republicans, might have handled the current Washington crisis and its world-wide ramifications. Could he have invented the weepy John Boehner (Kelly McParland: Shutdown gives Republicans a real reason for tears), or Ted Cruz – the senator from Alberta? On second thought, perhaps this is not a job for Mr. Clancy, but rather for the skills of Richard North Patterson whose gifts lie in detailing the seamier side of Washington politics. Maureen Dowd’s bleak attempt at scripting a Hollywood disaster movie is too simplistic – and heavy-handed.

The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions & make them one people.
I do not speak of their leaders who are incurable, but of the honest and well-intentioned body of the people.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Dickinson, (23 July 1801)

As the second week of the U.S. government shutdown opens, the American public is increasingly upset with both parties, although more blame the Republicans. Meanwhile, as the witching hour of October 17 for the debt ceiling is fast approaching neither Republicans nor Democrats offer any sign of impending agreement on either the shutdown or the debt ceiling, as each blames the other side for the impasse. Should the President negotiate with the congressional hostage takers? The answer increasingly depends on where you sit politically. Wherever one’s seat, it is an internationally embarrassing display, of which China has, predictably taken notice (China tells US to avoid debt crisis for sake of global economy), while President Obama missed the APEC conference – not reassuring for Asian nations who wonder how serious the Asian pivot policy is.
Wednesday Nighter David Jones argues that “Today’s shutdown differs [from previous ones] as it reflects existential differences over the future of U.S. health care and the Democrats have, essentially, refused to compromise.” Others may/will have a different take. Writing in Politico, Thomas Patterson of Harvard’s Kenndy School of Government puts forward an intriguing proposal: Should Democrats throw John Boehner a lifeline? What if House Democrats pledged to support John Boehner as speaker?
Meantime, the glitches in the implementation of the exchanges of the Affordable Care Act are predictably taking a beating in the media. Federal officials have admitted to the Wall Street Journal that the exchanges need design changes and more server capacity — and they’re currently making software and hardware improvements to smooth the whole process of signing up.

The events of the past ten days are the stuff of a political junky’s overdose and are not limited to Washington. Montrealers can revel in the carnival of municipal elections, while at the same time contemplating the manoeuvrings of the PQ government, not neglecting the ‘interventions’ of three former leaders of that party with respect to the Charter, or the ever-stronger possibility of a snap election on December 9th. Mme Marois’ jobs plan statement of Monday – a mere 150 pages – strengthens suspicions that Quebec is in election mode.

The November 3rd municipal elections – with 12 mayoralty candidates (only 4 are serious) – are already providing us with entertainment. We cannot wait for the bios of some of the more obscure of the 485 candidates. The polls are fascinating – Denis Coderre way out in front, but Richard Bergeron in second place (!!), while Mélanie Joly is tied with Marcel Coté, which means that she will participate in the RDI all-candidates debate at McGill on Wednesday, having been excluded from CTV on Sunday.
Should you wish to meet Melanie Joly and Marie-Claude Johnson, her candidate for City Councillor for NDG and running mate, there’s a gathering on Thursday at 5:30pm at 3776 Vendôme. Please RSVP to [email protected]
Beryl Wajsman has issued a defiant challenge to all those who are discouraged by the current state of Montreal: Montreal can work. Let’s just do it! – we recommend this be read and shared widely.
For those who want to know the how/when/where of voting, the municipal election website is full of excellent, useful information.

As the rest of the world continues to wobble on its axis, we have collected a few totally random items for you.

As even the sceptics indicated that there might be genuine hope for the U.S.-Iran talks, came the news of the latest alleged assassination in Iran of a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guards. Just who has been killing Iran’s nuclear scientists? Is it a last-minute attempt by Israel or the Iranian dissident group the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) to sabotage talks – or at least to show that they are still players in the decades-long struggle between the government in Tehran and its many antagonists?
While Mr. Obama did not get to go to Bali for APEC, Stephen Harper did, and stopped by Malaysia to pick up a promise of a $36 billion investment by Petronas for the construction of a liquid natural gas plant in British Columbia and the pipeline to feed it. While at APEC he confirmed that he will not be attending the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka. He also announced that he is dubious about continued funding for the Commonwealth and his special envoy, Senator Hugh Segal, in uncharacteristically harsh terms accused the organization’s secretariat of acting as a “shill” for Sri Lanka’s government [The Guardian:  Commonwealth chief is stooge of Sri Lanka regime – Canadian envoy].
The Passionate Eye aired a disturbing look at  Putin’s Road to Sochi – the 2014 Winter Games that will cost in excess of $50 billion dollars – and asks why these are the first Winter Games to be held in a sub-tropical resort.

The ‘smartest’ city in the world: Santander, Spain? Is a great story of sensible municipal development and for what appears to be a very reasonable cost —
A network of 10,000 sensors across the city help locals to find empty parking spaces and the government to speed up urban repairs – and save everyone money.
Lacking land on which to expand, Singapore Looks Below for More Room and plans to push the envelope of under-ground city design.

A Landmark Agreement on Climate Change at ICAO was announced last Friday. It commits ICAO to developing a global market-based measure (MBM) that will be an essential enabler for the industry to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020. Quite unrelated, but for the aviation buffs/plane spotters among you, Stephen Kinsman has forwarded this wonderful link http://www.flightradar24.com/BER7417 – you can see all the planes flying in your area and find out what type of aircraft, where they are going, etc.

For those who have been following the Bitcoin story, the FBI claims largest Bitcoin seizure after arrest of alleged Silk Road founder — Silk Road used Bitcoins to let users pay for drugs.

This is Nobel week (exception is the Prize for Economics that comes next Monday); a trio of winners for physiology or medicine was announced on Monday:  James E Rothman, Randy W Schekman and Thomas C Südhof “For elucidating the machinery that regulates vesicle transport through the cell.”
The Peace Prize – with a record 259 contenders – will be announced on Friday. Malala Yousafzai is by all accounts a very strong contender (even endorsed by Stephen Harper), along with Denis Mukwege, a doctor in the DRC, who has treated thousands of women gang-raped and tortured during the civil war. Vladimir Putin not likely. But the most controversial award is likely to be the Prize for Physics announced on Tuesday.[Update: Higgs boson, key to the universe, wins Nobel physics prize — (Reuters) – Britain’s Peter Higgs and Francois Englert of Belgium won the Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson particle that explains how elementary matter attained the mass to form stars and planets.]

For your agenda
October 9 — Ron Meisels extends an invitation to attend an event on Wednesday from 5 to 7 at the University Club: Irwin Cotler, member of the Parliament for Mount Royal, will chair a cocktail in honour of Raoul Wallenberg. See more on http://www.ucmontreal.ca/en/club-news  and please note the date published on the website has been changed to October 9th.

October 21Is Pakistan a Failing State? – A presentation and discussion on the challenges facing Pakistan, including political polarization, an economic downslide, ethnic fragmentation, the Baluchistan insurgency/separatist movement, FATA terrorism and nation’s response to militancy, sectarianism, law and order, the persecution of minorities, growing religious conservatism, clash of institutions, civil-military imbalance, and Pakistan’s foreign relations with important countries.
CIC event with Adnan Qaiser at the Atwater Club

October 22 – Launch of Kimon’s new book, Buffets And Breadlines at the University Club Please see http://newschoolofathens.org/2013/10/book-launch-buffets-breadlines/ for registration details.

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